Belize - Hurricane Keith Fact Sheet #2, Fiscal Year (FY) 2000

Report
from US Agency for International Development
Published on 04 Oct 2000


Overview

Hurricane Keith weakened to a tropical depression on October 3. The National Hurricane Center reported that as of 1000 hours (CDT), October 4, the center of the tropical depression was located over water in the Bay of Campeche about 310 miles east-southeast of Tampico, Mexico. Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph with higher gusts. The depression is moving toward the west-northwest about 12 mph. The storm is becoming better organized over warm waters and is expected to re-strengthen to a tropical storm by the afternoon of October 4.

The Government of Mexico has issued a tropical storm watch from Matamoros southward to Coatzacoalcos. A tropical storm warning will likely be required for a portion of the watch area later today. Heavy rains are still affecting portions of the Mexican Isthmus of Tehuatepec.

Belize

At its peak, Hurricane Keith brought up to 22 inches of rain to parts of Belize. Damage is concentrated in the northern mainland and islands off the coast. Belize’s National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) has taken the lead in evacuation, information dissemination and distribution of relief commodities. The Belize Red Cross Society is providing shelter to evacuees. No casualties have been reported. NEMO is currently conducting a damage assessment of affected areas.

Nicaragua

The U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua declared a disaster on October 3, requesting $25,000 to assist victims of Hurricane Keith. USAID/BHR/OFDA responded on October 4 by providing the requested $25,000. The Government of Nicaragua has requested relief commodities, including blankets, mattresses, food, plastic sheeting, and water jugs.

The U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua reported that heavy rainfall continues over much of the northwestern sections of the country. Nicaraguan civil defense officials reported five dead and more than 2,300 people evacuated from low-lying areas as of October 3. Local schools are being used as temporary shelters. Local authorities are coordinating the provision of food and medical supplies.

U.S. Government Response

A five-member component of a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART)/Ground Operations (GO) Team from USAID/BHR/OFDA’s Regional Office in Costa Rica deployed to Belize on October 3.

A second component of the DART/GO, consisting of five Miami Dade Fire and Rescue Personnel, a USAID Press Officer, and a USAID/Washington Operations Coordinator, deployed today from Miami to Belize, arriving in Belize at approximately 1330 hours local time (1530 hours EST). Their departure was delayed by inclement weather in Miami, which is suffering torrential rains and floods.

A pre-packaged module of relief commodities, including blankets, plastic sheeting, water jugs, and a health kit, accompanied the team from Miami. These relief supplies will be consigned to NEMO. Peace Corps volunteers evacuated from their sites to Belize City will assist with their distribution.

At the U.S. Embassy to Belize’s and USAID/BHR/OFDA’s request, the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) provided the following assets to the DART/GO Team: one Chinook and two Blackhawk helicopters for assessments and delivery of relief items, and six support personnel (in addition to the crews) to assist with distribution of relief supplies. They arrived in Belize at 1230 hours local time (1430 hours EST).

Today, the DART/GO team plans to use one Blackhawk helicopter to go northward to assess damage in Corker Cay, Ambergis Cay, and Corozal and the second one to take team members to the capital, Belmopan, to meet with NEMO and other officials.

A two-person USAID/BHR/OFDA team in Nicaragua began conducting meetings with the U.S. Mission and local officials today and plans to conduct local damage assessments within the next two days.

Background

After a long holding pattern off shore, Hurricane Keith made landfall over southeastern Mexico and northeastern Belize on the morning of October 1. At its peak, Hurricane Keith was a category four hurricane with winds up to 135 mph.

The U.S. Ambassador to Belize declared a disaster in response to the hurricane on October 2. USAID/BHR/OFDA responded with $25,000 to meet immediate relief needs.

Both sea and air transport from islands to the mainland of Belize stopped at 1400 hours (EST) on Saturday, September 30. Electricity, water and telephone services have been severely disrupted on the mainland (45% of Belize City is without electricity).